John Darwin disappeared for five years after faking his death in a life insurance fraud with his wife, Anne.
His story of amnesia didn’t fool the police, so John and Anne Darwin were arrested for fraud.
When were John and Anne Darwin arrested?
Prison officer and former science teacher John Darwin, 71, was killed in a canoe boat accident in March 2002.
John was not arrested until five years later when he turned himself in to a London police station.
He and his wife, Anne Darwin, 69, were facing mounting debt after buying real estate – together they ran a studio rental business in County Durham.
On March 21, 2002, he was seen rowing at sea in his red boat but did not return.
The doctor’s former receptionist, Ann, sounded the alarm when John failed to show up for work later that day.
Several weeks later, the wreck of the boat was found washed ashore and John was presumed to have perished at sea.
He was pronounced dead, which means that Anne received a death certificate and a significant life insurance payout.
However, he was alive and well and hiding in a studio apartment next to his family home, later back with his wife.
John and Ann then sought to move to Panama in 2006 and purchased a £200,000 tropical property near the Panama Canal, with the intention of building a hotel and boat center.
This did not last long as Panama changed visa laws which means that expats living in the country have to be screened by British police.
John, who was pronounced dead and using an alias in Panama, returned to the UK on 1 December 2007 because he knew his identity would not withstand scrutiny.
Latest articles about the thief, his wife and the treasure
He turned himself in to the police saying he was suffering from amnesia, claiming he had no memory of the previous five years, but was arrested later that day by the cops.
Anne was detained at Manchester Airport the next day on her return to the UK.
Unbeknownst to the couple, Anne was already under police suspicion but was shocked to see him alive.
This came to light when the Daily Mirror published a photo of the couple taken together in Panama in 2006, proving that Anne was very knowledgeable about her husband’s life.
What are they accused of?
John was charged with insurance fraud and obtaining a passport by deception, while Ann was charged with fraud and money laundering.
Together, they were also accused of fraudulently obtaining funds from the teachers’ pension system as well as funds from the Ministry of Labor and Pensions.
In March 2008, John pleaded guilty to seven counts of insurance fraud and obtaining passport by deception in Leeds Crown Court, and Anne denied six counts of fraud.
In July of the same year, John and Ann were convicted of fraud. John was sentenced to six years and three months in prison, while Ann was sentenced to six years and six months.
The couple appealed the ruling but the appeals court rejected the appeal.
John was released on probation in January 2011 and Anne was released two months later and the couple divorced soon after.
Their two children, Mark and Anthony, were lied to and led to believe that John was dead, causing a rift in the family.
While Anne has reconciled with her children and now lives in York, John has moved to the Philippines with a new wife twenty years younger than him.